After the poor response that “Bottle Rocket” got, Anderson did not have high hopes for his future as a director. “Looking back, I don’t even know how we managed to get ‘Rushmore’ made, or why,” he admitted to Film4. “We’d spent many years making [‘Bottle Rocket’] — well, virtually no one saw it.” Anderson’s debut feature did impress a few people, though, most notably a producer at Touchstone Pictures. “It sort of built up a little cult following eventually but it had a few fans that were in the movie business, like Ross, who sort of set us up with Disney,” Anderson explained to Charlie Rose.
The director’s sophomore film was an even riskier endeavor. “‘Rushmore’ was more expensive and maybe even a bit stranger,” he told Film4. “And yet it seemed to just happen. So I think it was just lucky.” It wasn’t all luck though — his first film taught him a lesson. “Once we showed [‘Bottle Rocket’] publicly and I saw that people could reject this completely… that changed my perspective permanently about what it’s like to bring a movie to an audience and what you can expect,” he explained.
Even still, Anderson would not allow the hostile reception from “Bottle Rocket” to cloud his creative judgment. “It didn’t make me change how I went about doing ‘Rushmore,'” he asserted. “Once ‘Bottle Rocket’ was finished and suddenly somebody said we’ll do another one, then that was what I was really focused on.”
“Rushmore” was a roaring success, featuring an unforgettable debut performance from Jason Schwartzman and a supporting role played by the incomparable Bill Murray. The two actors would go on to star in nearly every one of Anderson’s subsequent films, forming an unstoppable cinematic force.